In A FISH CALLED WANDA, veteran director Charles Crichton and scriptwriter-star John Cleese create a dazzling quilt from various strands of English and American comedy. The plot, in which four disparate characters attempt a daring heist, comes from Ealing caper comedies, such as Crichton's own THE LAVENDER HILL MOB. Cleese and Michael Palin, as the hit man with a stutter and a love of animals, come from the anarchic tradition of Monty Python. The movie pays savage tribute to another Ealing comedy, THE LADYKILLERS, as Palin attempts to kill a witness to the gang's getaway. The glamorous con woman (Jamie Lee Curtis) is from Preston Sturges's great comedy THE LADY EVE, while Kevin Kline provides his own unique feverish comic intensity.
But, in the midst of this breathless comedy, something else happens. The barrister, Archie Leach (Cleese), who is defending one of the gang, is jolted out of his tight-laced British existence by Curtis's life force. And Curtis--like Barbara Stanwyck in THE LADY EVE--falls into her own trap: falling in love with the man she's conning. The 78-year-old Crichton never before had such rich material. He times everything in this brilliant comedy with the precision of a Swiss watch.
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor 1988 Kevin Kline Actor, SOPHIE'S CHOICE